Addicts in Serbia find Freedom in Jesus Christ
By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
NOVI SAD, SERBIA (ANS -- May 19, 2017) -- Since the 1970’s Serbia has faced a growing problem with drugs and addiction.
Years ago hospitals were unable to offer much help, so in 2006 Novi Sad Christian Fellowship decided to open their church facilities for drug addicts. The chief desire was to introduce them to Christ.
Funding is the first challenge for the Rainbow Rehab Center program led by Danny and Vera Kuranji, who accept men and women in the rehabilitation program without a charge because they and their family members do not have funds.
“We always take the step of faith and believe that God will provide. The program lasts around 18 months and depends on how each person responds to the change that Christ can bring in their lives,” the Kuranjis said in an interview with Transform Europe Now www.ten-uk.org.
The next challenge is when someone wants to leave the program. “After a few months some residents feel that they are no longer addicted and they leave early. Often they go back to drugs. This is hard for us since we have given ourselves for them and know they are not yet ready to face life out of center,” the Kuranjis said.
Mihajlo is 32-years-old, but he is not the same person who walked into the center -- because now he is free from drugs and transformed from all that the addict lifestyle involves.
The Kuranjis said: “His parents divorced when he was a teenager and his mum left the country for a new life in Germany. By this time Mihajlo was already deep in his drug problem and living on his own in Belgrade. Somehow, he decided to stop doing drugs and for a few years was clean until he slipped back into the old habit. “Most of his former friends were no longer alive and he knew that he was on a similar path. He was desperate for change. Some friends brought him to the center. At first he was tempted to leave. All the talk about a God was so foreign to him because of his atheism! He doubted that he would ever be able to believe. He stayed and after a couple of months he asked Jesus to take over his ruined life.”
The Kuranjis said two years later Mihajlo is a changed man, and has since joined their staff in the center. “He helps other addicts to come to Jesus and follow Him, and now has a big family that loves him -- something that he never had. His life finally has a purpose.”
Shortly after the Kuranjis started the rehab for girls, Sofija was brought in by her father, who was unable to help her or provide accommodation. “Her husband also feared the impact on their little son watching his mother unable to function. We watched her shaking, weak, pale and lost. We knew that we had to do something. We couldn’t turn her away, and now we are so are so glad that we didn’t! Eighteen months later Sofija is a changed woman. She looks different, thinks differently, and has a bright new identity. She is a child of God, who is loved, accepted, forgiven, and free!
“I have a new wife,” said her husband. The family will soon be reunited and little 3 -year-old Filip is patiently waiting for his mum to come home. Sofija is free after 15 years of heroin addiction. She came in (to the center) depressed and hopeless, and now she is glowing and growing!”
According to the Kuranjis, all the men and women from the center attend church services and many of their family members come along as well. “The church is the family. It’s the place where those staying at the center have sister and brothers, as well as solid teaching. It’s the place where they worship God.”
They were asked what has been their personal involvement in the rehab work? “My wife, Vera and I started the ministry, and now we oversee the team and are personally involved in rehab for both men and women. We often bring them to our home and counsel them…we are like parents to them. Work with them is more than work, (it is) ministry; it is our life,” said Danny.
“Our biggest need and challenge is financial support. We always have at least 20 people in rehab for at least 16 months and they do not pay at all. Running costs for each person are more than GBP£200 (USD$260) for each month. For this we totally trust God to provide and are grateful to all that are part of His plan to provide.”
Photo captions: 1) Drug addiction is a serious problem in Serbia. 2) Danny and Vera Kuranji. 3) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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